Open Access Monitoring – Approaches and Perspectives

The Austrian Open Access working group, AT2OA, invited fellow groups to discuss Open Access monitoring in Vienna April 9-10. Camilla Lindelöw, National Library of Sweden, participated and reported about the work in the Swedish Open Access working groups.

Photo: Camilla Lindelöw

The intention of the workshop was to discuss how we measure the Open Access (OA) share of publications. As always with workshops, we ended up with several more topics, and some of them strike remained with me: an overarching one was the question of measuring the transition to OA vs monitoring an OA landscape (not too far off in the future). We are still handling the color family of OA, and it is still growing. As a reply to this, one conclusion of the workshop was that when you are monitoring the landscape, you try to monitor all of it, and do not discriminate between different ways of achieving OA. You don’t take a stand as to which road is the best one. I’m not sure we all agreed on this conclusion, but I find it interesting as it gives perspective on how to present data – are we covering the various ways, or are we favoring certain parts?

Of course the OA share was also duly discussed, especially the denominator. What do we put as a baseline, what constitutes all publications in a particular case? If we intend to monitor at a national level, the decision to use Web of Science or Scopus vs a national datasource for publications gives different results. All countries don’t even have a national datasource. One purpose of the Swedish datasource Swepub is to collect those publications remaining outside of the big commercial databases but still considered as scholarly output – mainly publications in other formats than articles and written in Swedish. Pablo de Castro, member of the euroCRIS board, proposed another possible source for the denominator: OpenAIRE. OpenAIRE collects data from a wide variety of sources such as preprint-archives like, Crossref and national publication databases (but only Linköping University from Sweden, as far as I can see). With this amount of different datasources, how do we tackle the duplication that must occur, especially for publications without DOIs?

Just de Leeuwe, TU Delft Library, presented a clear approach to defining the OA colors, and analyzing them accordingly. It seems to me to always be a case of searching for the key where the light is: publications have to be visible and measurable in order to be monitored. The challenge is to spread the light out. When we can use tools such as Unpaywall, searching through an impressive collection of sources for fulltext versions, we are on our way.

Just also showed a special case about a hybrid article and Creative Commons: At the landing page of this hybrid article you find the Creative Commons license alongside a link to the Copyright Clearance Center. The information within the article PDF is even more deceptive with the Copyright symbol followed by the name of the publisher, and all rights reserved. Some work remains to be done.

What about discoverability? Sarah Fahmy, Jisc, referred to the tree falling in the forest: if no one hears it falling, does it make a sound? This is probably an up and coming topic – when everything is out there, open access, how do we sift through it all? Sarah also mentioned a survey on Open Access, where the results will be presented soon. The report will show a significant progress for OA in the UK following the implementations during the last years, and is a collaboration between HEFCE, Jisc, the Wellcome Trust and Research Councils UK (RCUK).

Being at the Department of Physics at the University of Vienna gave the opportunity for an introduction to Erwin Schrödinger’s archive. We were also kindly offered a biography that was compiled for what would have been Shrödinger’s 100th anniversary. Unfortunately, the biography is not available OA, I guess due to the rich content of photos that would have to be copyright cleared. However, in the biography I found a passage were Schrödinger mused over Franz Exner’s absence from the history of quantum mechanics: “Exner’s name is never mentioned, probably because he did not publish his ideas in a scholarly journal but in a readable textbook instead, with few formulas to clutter his text” (1, p. 30). A reminder to us working with scholarly publishing of today that the ideas of readability and finding your audience is certainly no new thing.

Some coming and on-going projects were also presented: Finland recently launched a platform for Finnish research. Jyrki Ilva, National Library of Finland, presented this hub that will connect publications to projects and funding. OA will be part of the statistics monitored. The Open APC initiative has been around for some years, and has done some impressive work,: a total collection of 50 350 journal articles that 157 institutions paid  € 95 943 749 for to make openly avaliable. Dirk Pieper, University of Bielefeld Library, presented experiences with the workflows involved.

Finally our hosts, in the form of Patrick Danowski from AT2OA, presented their ongoing work. They experimented with OA identification and presented among other things this star:

Picture from Danowski’s presentation

The full presentation can be found here. The star may be used to infer type of OA based on the five parameters, somewhat similar to what can also be done with the data Unpaywall collects.

About AT2OA

AT2OA, Austrian Transition to Open Access, is a project running 2017-2020. The goal of the “Austrian Transition to Open Access” (AT2OA) project is to support the large-scale transformation of scientific publications from Closed to Open Access, and to implement measures supporting this initiative.

The presentations from the workshop are available here.

Twitter hashtag: #at2oa

1.  Kerber, G. Dick, A. & Kerber, W (eds). 2015. Erwin Shrödinger 1887-1961 – Documents, Material and Pictures. Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Erwin Schrödinger. Austrian Central Library for Physics, Vienna.